All my life, I hated learning about slavery. It made me feel sick and uneasy, knowing how poorly innocent people were treated. Slavery gave power to the corupt and helped influence racism and racial sterotypes that we still see today. People were abducted from their home lands and forced to be slaves, forced to do things they didn’t want to do, and forced to abandon their culture and heritage. Although many believe that slavery is a thing of the past, we need to understand how it affects people today. Many people are affected by slavery and feel that we do not talk about it as much as we should. Its very name evokes emotions so strong that many Americans demand that we no longer speak of it. However, if we want to see changes in race relation we must be open to having discussions about slavery. The whole reason we learn about history is so that it is not repeated.
Let’s start off with a little bit of history. Slaves were not needed in the colonies. The only purpose for them was so that they can plant sugar, tobacco, and to pick cotton. All while their owner would grow rich and wealthy for doing absolutely nothing. In 1619, Dutch traders brought African slaves taken from a Spanish ship to North America. Africans were also generally treated as servants in the early colonial era. At first, Europeans tried enslaving Native Americans. But Native people lacked genetic immunities to diseases like smallpox and malaria. Africans on the other hand, were immune to such diseases. Europeans had discovered this by the early 1500s and the slave trade developed rapidly.
Since the government allowed it, slaves were abused inside and outside of work. It is estimated that 4 million died in Africa after capture, and many more died young.
Lets making something very clear, there are still people in America who believe that slavery was right, we have been shown this time and time again. The Klu Klux Klan are not an extinct group and we all know that there rally’s are a distressing matter.What kids learn in school is a PG retelling of slavery, there has been no discussion about what the theft did to Africa and its countires, or what centuries of being treated like trash did to generations of African Americans.
The damages of slavery still affect many Americans. according to a Pew Research Center survey, 63% of African Americans feel impacted by slavery. 59% say the legacy of slavery affects the situation of black people a great deal. Comparing other races, 26% of whites, 29% of Hispanics and 33% of Asians say slavery affects black people in today a great deal. The survey also found that more than 40% of U.S. adults think the country hasn’t gone far enough in giving black people equal rights with whites. 78% of Afircan Americanssay the country hasn’t made enough progress in this area, compared with 37% of whites and 48% of Hispanics. In addition to their views about the country’s racial progress, black adults are also skeptical about the racial equality in the future. Among black Americans who say the country hasn’t gone far enough in giving black people equal rights with whites, 64% say it’s not too or not at all likely that the country will ever achieve racial equality.
Now slavery may have ended 154 years ago, but it remains in our criminal justice system, in the systematic devaluation of our property, and in the harsh discipline to which people of color are disproportionately subjected. It’s past time all students learn why black and white Americans can expect very different life outcomes, so that they can unlearn the myths of America and the black stereotypes that bolstered those falsehoods.
While American textbooks deliver a slavery-lite version of history, other countries have chosen to confront the ugliness of their past, not a sanitized version of it. For instance, schools in Germany are legally mandated to teach the Holocaust. In the apartheid museum in Johannesburg, South Africa, patrons are randomly sorted into the white or non-white entrance lines. We, too, can only learn from our history when we know it.
We know that discussion of slavery is not a welcomed one. It can evoke reactions and emotions that some do not wish to share, it is a controversial topic. But looking at where we are as a country, we cannot sit back and act like everything is fine. We are all Americans, nobody should have to feel less than someone else. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes, as an Arab-American I have faced racism on many different accounts. Racism is out there. It will most likely always be out there. However we can reduce it by teaching our kids the cold heart truth about racism and slavery. If we tell them the raw facts and powerful/violent stories, they will know it’s wrong. They can stand up to their family members who may be bigots and have the nerve to say “you are wrong”. It starts with the way we raise our kids. They are the future, and in the future we need to teach them about the horrible things we did in the past. For christs sake, in my elementary school we even celebrated Columbus day.
In conclusion, slavery still has a long lasting effect on our country today. Polls show that African Americans and other people of color are affected by slavery in a great deal. Now some of you may be thinking “So what?”. To respond to that I offer another question, “How long do you wish to see us divided?”. Many people, particularly whites, want to end the discussion of slavery even though there is still much to discuss. In order for us to be united, we all need closure. With our country now divided more than ever, we need to come together and talk about our issues in a civil matter. Once we can do that, then we can move on. Until then, get ready to see more and more division in our society. Is that what you want?